Nationality: French. Born: Algeria, 24 January 1950. Education: Trained as an actor with François Florent. Family: Married Emmanuelle Béart (divorced); one daughter. Career: Stage debut at Theatre National de Paris, then cast in Godspell in Paris; directed and starred in Gérard Lauzier's play Le Garçon D'Appartement , 1981. Awards: César Award for Best Actor, for Manon des sources , 1987; British
L'Agression ( Act of Aggression ) (Pirès); Attention les yeux ( Let's Make a Dirty Movie ) (Pirès) (as Alex)
La Nuit de Saint Germain des Prés (Swaim) (as Remy); L'Amour violé ( Rape of Love ) (Bellon)
Monsieur Papa (Monnier) (as Dede)
Les Héros n'ont pas froid aux oreilles (Nemès)
Bête mais discipliné (Zidi); À nous deux ( An Adventure for Two ) (Berri and Lelouch) (as Un Voyou)
Les Sous-doués (Zidi) (as Bebel); Clara et les chics types ( Clara and the Swell Guys ) (Monnet) (as Mickey); La Banquière (Girod)
Les Sous-doués en vacances (Zidi); Les Hommes préfèrent les grosses ( Men Prefer Fat Girls ) (Poiré) (as Jean-Yves)
Que les gros salaires lèvent le doigt! (Graniere-Deferre) (as André Joeuf); Pour 100 briques t'as plus rien . . . (Molinaro); T'empêches tout le monde de dormir (Lauzieres)
L'Indic (Leroy) (as Dorniche); Les Fauves (Daniel) (as Berg)
P'tit con (Lauzier); L'Arbalète ( The Syringe ) (Gobbi)
Palace (Molinaro); L'Amoure en douce ( Love on the Quiet ) (Molinaro)
Le Paltoquet (Deville) (as The Journalist); Jean de Florette (Berri) (as Ugolin); Manon des sources ( Manon of the Spring ) (Berri) (as Ugolin)
Quelques jours avec moi ( A Few Days with Me ) (Sautet) (as Martial)
Romuald et Juliette ( Mama, There's a Man in Your Bed ) (Serreau) (as Romuald Blindet)
Lacenaire ( The Elegant Criminal ) (Girod) (as Pierre-François Lacenaire)
Ma vie est un enfer ( My Life is Hell ) (Balasko) (as Abar)
Un coeur en hiver ( A Heart in Winter ; A Heart of Stone ) (Sautet) (as Stephane)
Ma saison préférée ( My Favourite Season ) (Téchiné) (as Antoine)
La Reine Margot ( Queen Margot ) (Chéreau) (Henri of Navarre); La Séparation ( The Separation ) (Vincent) (as Pierre)
Une femme Française ( A French Woman ) (Warnier) (as Louis)
Afirma Pereira ( According to Pereira ) (Faenza) (as Dr. Cardioso); Le Huitième jour ( The Eighth Day ) (van Dormael) (as Harry); Les Voleurs ( Thieves ; Child of the Night ) (Téchiné) (as Alex)
Lucie Aubrac (Berri) (as Raymond Aubrac); Passage à l'acte ( Death in Therapy ) (Girod); Le Bossu ( On Guard ) (de Broca) (as Lagardère/Le bossu [the hunchback])
An Interesting State (Wertmuller); La Fille sur le pont neuf ( The Girl on the Bridge ) (Leconte) (as Gabor); The Lost Son (Menges) (as Xavier Lombard); Mauvaise passe ( The Escort ; The Wrong Blonde ) (Blanc) (as Pierre)
Sade (Jacquot) (as Marquis de Sade); Le Placard (Veber); La Veuve de Saint-Pierre ( The Widow of Saint-Pierre ) (Leconte) (as Le Capitaine)
Jousse, T., and I. Katsahnias, "Entretien avec Daniel Auteuil," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), no. 418, April 1989.
Andrew, Geoff, "The Quiet Man," interview in Time Out , no. 1305, 23 August 1995.
Royger, Geneviève, and Luc Chaput, "Le bossu," interview in Séquences (Montreal), no. 194, January/February 1998.
Robin, Jean François, Daniel Auteuil, l'acteur , Paris, 1988.
Lavoignat, Jean-Pierre, article in Premiere (Paris), August 1986. "Daniel Auteuil," in Stars (Mariembourg), Spring 1994.
Kilby, Stuart, review of Le Huitième jour , in Film Review (London), December 1996.
Rees, Jasper, "The New Depardieu—but Thinner," in The Daily Telegraph (London), 23 January 1998.
Matteou, Demetrios, review of The Lost Son , in Total Film (London), July 1999.
Quinn, Anthony, "The Big Picture—She's Just Touched Down From Venus," in The Independent (London), 26 May 2000.
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Algerian born Daniel Auteuil spent his teenage years traveling with his father, who was an opera singer, and claims to have grown up in the theatres of provincial France. Now one of France's most popular and well-known male actors, Auteuil began his professional acting career in the theatre before making his big-screen debut in 1975 in Gérard Pirès's L'Aggression , and going on to act in several stage and screen comedies. Auteuil's career was slow to gather momentum, but in 1986 he starred in Jean de Florette and its sequel, Manon des sources , the success of which launched him into a select group of leading French character actors, alongside Gerard Depardieu and the late Yves Montand. Having worked mostly in French art-house cinema, Auteuil remains relatively little known outside the francophone nations, despite the world-wide success of Jean de Florette. It is in the 1990s that he has begun to find a regular audience in art-house cinemas elsewhere in Europe and in the United States.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph , Jasper Rees describes Auteuil as "the new Depardieu—but thinner," and it is true that since Jean de Florette the two men have vied for the affections of French cinemagoers. Yet as actors Auteuil and Depardieu could hardly be more different. While Depardieu excels as a romantic lead, Auteuil prefers more ambiguous characters, such as the landowner, Ugolin, in the "Manon" films, or the wronged lover in numerous other movies such as La Femme Française , Un Coeur en Hiver , and La Separation. Auteuil's physical presence on the screen is no match for Depardieu's imposing bulk: much of the charm of Jean de Florette lies in the battle of wills between Depardieu's brawny, powerful farmer, and Auteuil's physically weak landowner, who uses guile and wit to drive his rival, finally, to his death. Yet Auteuil invariably succeeds in establishing the complexity of the characters he plays, convincing the audience of the "Manon" films, for example, of the depth of his tragic passion for Manon, while at the same time playing a shallow individual whose chief characteristic is malignant greed.
In the 1990s, Auteuil had the pick of some of the best films to have been produced by the French film industry. Un Coeur en hiver saw him co-starring for the third time with his then wife Emmanuelle Bèart in a bitter love story, and won him the Felix award for Best Actor. His ability to charm audiences with his vulnerability even in otherwise unsympathetic roles has gained him many awards nominations in recent years, most notably for Le Bossu , a period drama in which Auteuil stars as a swordsman who disguises himself as a hunchback to avenge the murder of his friend the Duke of Nevers. Although this was the sixth known adaptation of Paul Feval's novel, the movie was a deserved success, bringing Auteuil his third César nomination of the decade.
Auteuil's status among the most highly rated of French male actors is now assured, and the fact that he has worked on nine films in the two years up to 2000 is testament to his enthusiasm for acting and filmmaking. Films such as La Fille sur le pont neuf are also bringing him to a wider audience. Released in the United Kingdom in 2000 as The Girl on the Bridge , the film co-stars Vanessa Paradis, and tells the quirky tale of a man who rescues a girl about to throw herself from the parapet of the Pont Neuf in Paris, and then recruits her as the "target" for his circus knife-throwing act. Auteuil's skill for character complexity endows the manipulative Gabor with a troubled inner life which comes to dominate a film which is otherwise lacking in human interest.
Often cast in roles involving troubled relationships, conspiracy, and pragmatic moral choices, Auteuil manages to attract audiences to unpleasant or difficult characters with his laconic style, and an obvious commitment to the parts he plays. While he has not yet broken into American cinema with so high a profile as Depardieu, the success of Kevin Spacey in American Beauty suggests that audiences outside France are more than ready to embrace the kind of impish wit and deadpan delivery that Auteuil has made his speciality.